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Ethernet services

Eurobites: BT 'Fesses Up to Compensation-Fiddling on Ethernet Services

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Telia has change of heart on IoT; mobile device infections rising; UK minister slams encrypted messaging in wake of Westminster Bridge outrage.

  • It never rains but it pours for BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA): Last week the regulator Ofcom announced that consumers would be entitled to automatic compensation if fixed-line providers in the UK failed to meet certain levels of customer service; on Friday the Financial Times reported (subscription required) that BT's Global Services division had been accused of bid-rigging in Hong Kong; and today BT has been singled out and fined £42 million (US$52.9 million) for fiddling the compensation payments it paid to rival telcos for delays in its network access unit, Openreach , connecting Ethernet services. Under Ofcom's rules, BT is obliged to install Ethernet services to its wholesale customers in accordance with its contracts, which state that such services must be delivered within 30 days and, if these terms are not met, compensation must be paid. Exceptions can be granted if problems are encountered in the delivery of the services, but between January 2013 and December 2014 BT was found to be "encountering" such problems retrospectively, to reduce its compensation payments.

    In addition to the £42 million fine, BT has also agreed to compensate the affected telcos (Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD) and TalkTalk amongst them) in full, a commitment it expects to cost in the region of £300 million ($377 million). In a statement, BT admitted responsibility for the dodgy practices, saying: "We apologise wholeheartedly for the mistakes Openreach made in the past when processing orders for a number of high-speed business connections … This shouldn't have happened and we fully accept Ofcom's findings." (See Eurobites: Brits In Line for Cashback Over Fixed-Line Fails.)

  • Telia has entered into a partnership with Connected Baltics OÜ, the operator that holds the exclusive rights to the Sigfox Internet of Things network in Estonia, despite saying last year that it was "betting" on NB-IoT over rival technologies such as Sigfox and LoRa. (See Telia 'Betting' on NB-IoT Over LoRa, Sigfox.)

  • Smartphone device infections rising by nearly 400% in 2016 is just one of the cheery findings in the latest Threat Intelligence Report from Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK). According to the report, malware struck 1.35% of all mobile devices in October, the highest level since Nokia started publishing these reports. Android devices are still the main targets of those purveying the nasty stuff, though iOS devices suffered in the second half of the year, primarily in the form of Spyphone surveillance software, which tracks users' device-related activity.

  • Still on security-related matters, British Interior Minister Amber Rudd has called on technology companies to stop effectively offering a "secret place for terrorists to communicate" through encrypted messages. As Reuters reports, the calls come in the wake of last week's terror attack in London, which left five people dead, including the perpetrator of the outrage. It seems the terrorist/loser in question sent an encrypted message on WhatsApp moments before he deliberately plowed his car into pedestrians on Westminster Bridge and then stabbed a policeman.

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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